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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  December 30, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EST

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>> you're in the stream. is money the secret to happiness? we'll explore what makes us happy, and why. >> lisa fletcher is out today, but we have our man as cohost. with all of the tweets and facebook messages, and omar, does more bling make you happy? what did they say? >> they have different ideas of whether obtaining more wealth brings happiness.
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we have elizabeth saying: >> for those of you at home, we want you to be part of this conversation. and let us know what makes you happy and what the connection is between money and happiness. >> a wife and jacked up truck. happiness, it's the most valued human emotion, for some, it's a strong sense of wellbeing, and for others, they think that more money will make them happy. >> what do you want out of life. >> to be happy. and to live a long happy life. >> what's going to make you successful and happy? what will make you feel successful and happy? >> right now, money. lots of money.
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>> all right, but does more money lead to more problems? according to a gallop poll, income has risen over the last 12 years, but happiness has not. wellbeing is for income, but once our basic needs are met, what makes us happy? and is happiness the same arounded world? joining us from los angeles, rocco bellic, director of happy, and he's from los angeles, and author doing extensive research on materialism and happiness, and finally, from copenhagen, alexander carol, one of the leading experts on happiness in the workplace, and he's the author of the book, happy hour is 9-5. alexander, you are up first as our happiness expert. divine for us and measure happiness in the 21st century.
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easy question. >> s this a question that philosophers have struggled with for thousands of years. the term, happiness, in my phone number, life satisfaction, where you stop people and them on a scale of 1-10, all things considered, how happy are you with your life? and they will give you a rating. and the other thing, how you feel on a day-to-day basis. you can ask them about their day yesterday, and you ask them how you feel. and there's a happiness curve for that day. so my satisfaction is measured, and that's why it's used in a lot of surveys. it's a very valuable tool. but it's more about how you think about your life. rational decision, are you satisfied with your life? whereas the emotional component, how do you feel about your life? is in my opinion just as important, or maybe more important.
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because that's what actually determines how you feel on a day-to-day basis. today, right now, doing what you're doing, do you feel good, or do you feel bad? that's the important thing. >> tim, you're not a philosopher, but happiness usually shows the importance of emotional wellbeing and positive life evaluation. and explain to us these two factors of happiness. >> well, emotional wellbeing, are you joyful and excited, what most cause a positive aspect. and not experiencing negative emotions, not being depressed or sad. and so that would be your emotional wellbeing, not being depressed but feeling excited and content. in terms of your evaluation, that gets more to the life
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satisfaction end of things. where you can look at different domains in your life, your relationships, your work life and your hobbies and say, do i feel like this is going more or less like i want? and there's another part of happiness. meaning in life, what i do has a purpose, feeling like it's what i choose to do, feeling like i'm headed in the direction that makes sense for who i am and what i want my life to be. so that's another component of overall wellbeing that is a new part of understanding happiness for psychologists, so philosophers and meaning of life for a long, long time. >> you made the happy movie and you spent six years traveling the globe and interviewing others to find out what makes us happy. so give us the secret here. what gives us happiness? >> it's exactly the question i
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had when i made this film. i got to speak with ed deaner, some call him the godfather of happiness research, because he studied it longer than anyone else. and there's a key to happiness, they all share a common trait. he said that the formula is different for people. some need a job that makes them happy. some need a job that provides enough resources to do the things that they love, like be with their family and do the things that they enjoy. but there's one common thread among all happy people and that's that they had good relationships. it doesn't mean that they loved everybody, or they were extremely social or loved dancing or anything like that, not that they were out doing socially. but what it meant, they loved somebody, and somebody loved them. the fundamental human interaction of love and
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compassion and interconnection is the common trait of all people. so that to me implies something very deep about how we're wired, and what makes us function and thrive. >> omar, what is the community saying? >> we have a lot of community weighing in on money and happiness: so alexander, even if somebody gives into the fact that wealth is not a bullet for happiness, wouldn't you say that it contributes to removing some of the obstacles for people being able to obtain it? >> the money doesn't make us
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happy. if you're worried about your finances, but if you are worried that your home will foreclose, that won't make you happy. but i think that money contributes to life satisfaction than to happiness, and feeling good. here's something interesting, a distinction between happiness, and satisfaction is determined in relation to what others have. so you may have a salary of $100,000, but whether or not that satisfies you depends on what people around you are getting. okay, you're only satisfied with your $100,000 if it's more than what somebody else has. going back to the gentleman in the introduction, you're only satisfied with your neighbor's jacked up trust if it's better than the neighbor's jacked up truck. you feel good whether others feel good, and you are happy when people around you are happy
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>> so which country is the happiest in the world and why? when we come back.
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>> i'm so happy because i have really strong relations to my family, and strong relations to my friends. also, i've been traveling around the world, backpacking to different places, and that also makes me happy. also, i feel free. i can listen to music, i can read a book, i can go for a run, i can ride on my bicycle, and i
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can actually do whatever i want to do. >> welcome back. we're talking about what makes us happy, and why. you just heard from a man who lives in one of the happiest countries in the world. which begs the question, what is the happiest place on earth, and no, omar, it's not disneyland. denmark is number one. norway, 2, switzerland, 3, netherlands 4, all the way down to 17 is the usa and that's on a scale of 1-10. none of the ten richest nations rank in the key to happiness, and what's the scandinavian secret other than chocolate in what's going on? >> what made me really happy about that, it's all that matters. i think there are some things in the scandinavian model that we're getting right. and i don't want to paint
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denmark as the perfect country because we're not, but there are things that work here. and specifically, we know that wealth in itself does not drive happiness in a nation. we know that income equality drives happiness in the nation. so if you have high inequality, for a very simple reason, if you're walking around the streets, and you're rich, but you see people starving in the streets, that makes you unhappy. in denmark, we have some of the world's highest taxes, which i don't necessarily enjoy much, but that makes free healthcare, and free universities, and excellent social security, which means that there are very very few poor people in denmark. >> alex, check this out. what is denmark doing right? check out this graphic. parental support, healthcare, gender equality. biking, positive attitudes, and apparently, there's a
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responsibility to others, and omar, our community has really been talking about denmark as a model for happiness. >> they have thoughts on why people are happy there. safer food, more efficient work weeks, healthcare, and public transportation, and the list goes on. and equality. >> and vacation. >> and speaking of that, tim, how important is having free time to actually being happy? to control how you spend your time? >> well, it's a huge part of being happy. i mean, there's a lot of research that shows the least happiest day of the week is monday, and the most happy day is saturday. and that's no surprise. but one of the reasons they have been able to show that happiness occurs different is because on days like saturday, you have
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time to be with the ones you love, and going back to what rocco was talking, and you also have time to do the things that you love to do. you have time to play tennis or take a hike or draw or play piano or whatever it is, or be involved in the community. which is another important part of what makes us happy. feeling a part of the community and it contributing to that community. and the poverty we have in the united states means that the people have less time to do all of those things, and that drives down our happiness scores, in addition to the inequality. >> rocco, you've traveled around the world and seen so many cultures, and the community is saying, materialism and buying more things doesn't make me less happy, but more happy. and do you see a correlation between materialism and happiness? >> materialism as a value, and
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we know from research done by tim cass nor and others, it has a negative impact on our happiness. if we prioritize a different set of values, and i think we're going to talk about that later, but i wanted to jump in about the denmark and the community aspect of these things. one thing that we discovered in six years of research, denmark is one of the western industrialized nations that has the greatest part of its population living in what are called co-housing communities. people are in a modern kurt, but they have figured out ways to live in groups, like we all did 5,000 years ago, in a way that a community is connected on a daily basis. so in america, the vision of success is to have a big house and a big yard and a big yard or fence that keeps your neighbors far away. in denmark, people are finding ways to get a single building or
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a converted factory, and have multiple families living essentially together. they have their own private space but they share a few key elements, they share a playground for the children, and have an area to eat together. and i think that it has a huge impact on our happiness because of what it does in nurturing communities and relationships. >> today is the day everybody is raving about denmark. scandinavian workers expressed far higher levels of happiness compared to american workers. they didn't take vacation days off, so more americans are working harder but are less productive. talk d to us about the work environment. >> we know from studies that denmark has happiness in the workplace, the happiest in the world. and there are two fundamental
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things that we're getting right. one, we have less of a workplace culture. danish employees have much more say and control over their own work situation than workers in many many other countries. they have more freedom at work basically, and that makes us happy. and the other thing, and somebody mentioned this already, is working hours. we have the third lowest working hours per worker in the oecd. which is awesome. and what we know from productivity studies, when you work too many hours every week, it makes you less productive. if you work 60 hours week offer week after week, you get less work done than if you worked 40 hours a week because it makes you stressed and frustrated and tired, and you make more mistakes. so on the oecd, danish workers are the most productive in the world. if you look at working hour.
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so we go home early, that's true, but we get a lot of work done. >> we put out the question, given the fact that there's so much research between materialism and happiness, why do people continue to think that money equals happiness if? all right, my man, omar, there's so much more to discuss, but what we really want to know, what can we do to get happy and stay happy? coming up next, the importance of getting out there and experiencing life.
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>> for me, my life is like alone, and that's what we do, you serve your brother in front of you who is in need. and you live a happy life. perfect.
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>> welcome back. we're talking about how we can be happier. that was a shelter volunteer, talking about how helping others gives him satisfaction. what should we be prioritizing right now, and are we prioritizing the wrong goals? >> what we saw, he kind of epitomizes one of the findings that i came across doing this film. which is that helping others, and wanting to make the world a better place, intrinsic goals. i'm doing something meaningful, sense of community and valuing friendship. things that bind us to each other and make us want to help. those values, and prioritizing those intrinsic goals, make us happy. whether we succeed at doing those things or not, and if we prioritize on the other hand, a materialism, or desire for power
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or good lucks or money or fame, if we prioritize what we call extrinsic goals, and whether we succeed or not, if we try to make the world a better place, we're more likely to be happy than if we do it for ourselves and be young and strong, but if we turn external, in a strange way, what comes back to us is true and deep happiness. >> an omer, the community is responding: >> so tip, let me ask you this, is this materialism, is it
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nature, or is it pushed on us by the culture some. >> i would say that it's boat. but part of the reason our species survived, we're very good materialists, and very good at making things out of material stuff that helps us to survive. so there's something innate about materialism in humans, but at the same time, we have never lived in an era which has so many sophisticated ways to take that motivation, we have many motivations within us, and there's one motivation that enhances to be for the greatest good. so we have thousands and thousands of messages every day from our government and enterprises and corporations, the best way to have happiness is to make money and spend it. we live in a socioeconomic system which is very invested in getting people to care about
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those intrinsic values. research shows that they don't bring us happiness, they tend to bring us unhappiness, but they do a pretty good job of maximizing corporate growth. and that's what a lot of the powers at be are interested in. >> are we speaking from a place from the united states, from denmark? look at the places that are unstable. look at iraq and yemen and somalia, and how can we describe this unhappiness to them? >> i think before you can actually look at what makes you happy, you need to take away things that make you unhappy. if there's hunger and starvation in your country, civil war, take care of that first, and we can start talking about happiness. is this for everybody? no, there are places where there are fundamental things that need to be put right first.
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>> can i jump in? >> of course, go for it. >> thank you, i just want to specify that when we talk about materialism, there are different parts of a materialistic spectrum. to clarify it. if you're extremely poor, and if you're not sure if you're going to eat today or tomorrow, you're at an extreme low part of material wealth. and material wealth goes a long way to safety and shelter and food. and that's pretty much in every culture that i have seen. but once you get to the basic needs level, i think that's a very gray area. i went among the bushman people of the kalahari desert. and their needs are much lower than $75,000 a year, but in our western culture, once those basic needs are met, that sense of materialism becomes something different. it becomes the desire not for the things that you need but
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what you want. and it begins to diverge from its positive correlation from our happiness. once you get to the basic needs, the more you get doesn't make you happier. i just wanted to clarify. >> a lot of people, we put on the question of whether the government can play a role, or if there's anything from the policy level to enhance focus on health, poverty and helping those who are in need. we have stephanie, around maternity leave and corporate accountability. and we have living wage and income inequality. alexander, does the government have a way of enhancing society's levels some. >> i'm not entirely sure, but i'm pretty sure that the government has a role in taking away misery. if you can take away starvation, and corruption and unfairness, injustice and that kind of thing, things that make us
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unhappy, that's the government's role. and once that's in place, i think it's up to each individual to create their own happiness within that country. >> i want all of your thoughts on this. what's your prescription for americans, who despite having a job and material possessions, are still unhappy. rocco, you go first. >> i want to make a comment on a previous question. the things that we care about when you read the newspaper, and you hear about injustice or war or famine or crime. all of the things that we wish we could change in the world, corruption and all of these things, according to the research and there's an overwhelming amount of it, happy people, they improve those things, and, happy people are less likely to commit crimes or pollute the environment or cheat somebody or go to war. and happy people are more likely
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to be honest and help a stranger in need. if i see the world's problems on the news and i want to fix them, all of those are improved by increased happiness. >> tim, give us a prescription for happiness for americans. >> follow what you're interested in, do it more often, show the people that you love that you love them. and the do something to help somebody else, just to help them. >> there you go, america. that's perfect. that could be the recipe for happiness. we want to thank all of our guests, rocco, tim, and alexander. thank you for joining us and omar and i will see you online.
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